Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/695

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HOW THE EARTH WAS PEOPLED.

in Europe at the same date, have come, unless we suppose a direct communication between the two continents? The difficulty such men would have in crossing the Atlantic and the certainty which soundings give of the antiquity of the ocean remove all possibility of our believing either that the two continents were formerly joined, or that one of them was discovered by some unknown Columbus navigating the ocean a hundred thousand years before the later one.

We are thus in the presence of the problem, always coming up before us, and always escaping us, of the origin of the American man. Evidently it can not be resolved by invoking an accidental colonization of Asiatic wanderers, or a shipwrecked company; but it is one in which we have to deal with primitive populations flowing as in Europe by successive waves, and attesting the continuous presence of man, whose gradual development and extension have followed in America the same course as on the old continent. The hypothesis of an immigration from Asia by way of the Aleutian Islands to Alaska might be acceptable, did not the certainty of the presence of an indigenous American population in the Quaternary age reduce it to the proportions of a secondary fact. The same is the case with the relations—contradictory, it is true, and therefore suspicious—which some have attempted to establish between the monuments, statues, and graphic signs of Central America and those of Egypt and Buddhistic Asia. These analogies, aside from their insufficiency, must fall before two paramount considerations: first, the certainty of the contemporaneousness of the American man with the great animals of the Quaternary age; and, second, the relative uniformity of the copper colored race, so like itself through the whole extent of the continent, except in that part which is occupied by the Esquimaux. The difficulty arises from the fact that the monogenists, having in view a single birthplace and a single point of departure for the whole human race, and placing neither in the New World, have supposed America to have been colonized by European or Asiatic immigrants following the direction of the parallels of latitude. Emigration in this direction at once meets an obstacle in the oceans, which grow wider the farther south we go. The obstacle disappears if we give up the idea of lateral emigrations, and suppose the movement to have taken place in the direction of the meridians from north to south. No obstacle of any kind offers itself to such migrations; and the relative uniformity of the Americans, from one end of the continent to the other, would never have excited astonishment, if we had not been preoccupied with the idea of their introduction at a later date.

We may remark, on this topic, that the extreme southern points of the three continents are occupied by races which came originally, without doubt, from somewhere else, and which are ranked, in Terra del Fuego, at the Cape of Good Hope, and in Tasmania, among the lowest of the species. These races, advancing in front of the others,